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After Dark, My Sweet by Jim Thompson
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After Dark, My Sweet (1955)

by Jim Thompson

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Welcome to Jim Thompson's twisted world. Thompson was one of the greatest of the 1950's pulp writers. But, Thompson wrote differently than almost anyone else at that time. His books are often narrated by grifters, conmen, and psychopaths. Often, as in "Killer Inside Me," the world doesn't realize that their local deputy is the nastiest psychopath they ever dreamed of. In his 1955 novel, "After Dark, My Sweet," the narrator is Kid Collins, a one-time boxing phenom, who left the ring after he punched one opponent so hard that the guy never got up again. Collins drifted from job to job, town to town, prison to prison, psych ward to psych ward, and, as this novel begins, he has escaped from his latest mental hospital. He knows he is nuts and can't stand everyone making fun of him (or is he just paranoid). On the way, he meets an older lush who he can't keep his eyes off of (Faye) and a troubled ex-cop (Uncle Bud) who just happen to be planning a kidnapping and need a sucker to play the fall guy.

The plot isn't filled with too many twists and turns, but what is wonderful here is Thompson's writing, which takes you inside the thinking of a guy who hasn't got all his marbles to begin with. There are, of course, those who are convinced the whole thing is a con on Kid Collins' part, but even cuckoos have moments where they think they are sane.

The world in Thompson's novel is dark and dreary. No one is picking up a hitchhiker. The bartender "slops" down a beer in front of Collins. Collins, even sitting in the bar having a drink, feels that old feeling creeping up on him. His eyes begin to burn He can't just walk away, but he can't get them to stop needling him.

As to Fay, Collins says his first impression was that she was just a female barfly who hit the booze too hard. But then he decided she was pretty, she'd just led a hard life for too long. And sometimes she could act as nice as she looked, but that's except when her claws came out and she started needling him and pushing him.

The whole story seems somewhat twisted, including the nutty kidnapping plot and dealing with the sick kidnapped kid, but its all told from Collins point of view and his world is warped and crazy and he doesn't trust anyone at all, not even Fay, not even Uncle Bud, not even the friendly doctor who wants to take him in.

Maybe today there are any number of books told from a warped point of view, but few did it back in the mid-1950's and one can only imagine what it was like back then coming across one of Thompson's books and not knowing what you were getting into. The cover blurb about "twisted lives and tormented loves" doesn't really give an inkling about where this thin volume takes the reader. Enjoy. ( )
  DaveWilde | Sep 22, 2017 |
A "crazy" ex-fighter hooks up with an alcoholic "dolly" and they get involved in kidnapping a young boy. Lots of mumbly dialogue and scattered ramblings, but the ending is pretty good! And I love the last line - "I Just kind of stopped all over." ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 23, 2016 |
An excellent noir story of a kidnapping gone bad. Kid Collins is a former boxer, felon, and escaped mental patient who gets involved with a woman and a bad situation. He's an intriguing character - a sometimes unhinged yet moral criminal who really wants to do the right things in the end. It just doesn't work out, for him anyway. ( )
  Hagelstein | Jan 11, 2015 |
Like Thompson's other work, this is laden with doom, although in this case, the protagonist, an ex-boxer and escaped mental patient, understands his violent compulsion and fights against it. Unfortunately, that's about the only interesting part of the book. The plot, which concerns a kidnapping, is paint-by-numbers and seems mostly like an afterthought. The characters, other than the protagonist, are poorly drawn, including the usually-drunk femme fatale (or not) he falls for. And any book with a character called Uncle Bud (a bad ex-cop) can't be that good. Most strange is a doctor who sort of tries to help the mental patient--but not quite. He remains a cypher from the first time we see him to the last. The writing--meaning how Thompson puts words together--is pretty good, of course. He was a professional at that. And the book is somewhat engaging while you're reading it. But despite a pretty good ending, a little post-completion reflection leaves a sour taste. ( )
  datrappert | Aug 20, 2012 |
130 pages of Noir by the master ( )
  brone | Aug 17, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jim Thompsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gifford, BarryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Brien, GeoffreyAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I rode a streetcar to the edge of the city limits, then I started to walk, swinging the old thumb whenever I saw a car coming.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679732470, Paperback)

William Collins is very handsome, very polite, and very friendly. His is also dangerous when aroused. Now Collins, a one-time boxer with a lethal "accident" in his past, has broken out of his fourth mental institution and met up with an affable con man and a highly arousing woman, whose plans for him include kidnapping, murder, and much, much worse.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:30 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Trouble waits around the corner when the very handsome, polite, and friendly William Collins, a man who is also very easily aroused, breaks out of his fourth mental institution and falls in with a con man and a woman of ill repute.

» see all 2 descriptions

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